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Fiber Internet In 2014?

Your days of waiting for videos to buffer or uploading attachments may be over soon as competition is growing for which data provider is going to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than your current provider.

AT&T announced Thursday that it would join Google and Time Warner Cable in providing cities in the Triangle and Winston-Salem one-gigabit speeds through their fiber-optic internet services.

“AT&T already has a large fiber footprint in the region—that’s one of the reasons it made it such an attractive partner,” says Marc Hoit, the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology at N.C. State and a spokesperson for the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN). “With that, they have the ability to jump start and do things faster. We’re hoping some of those connections start before the end of this year.”

The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro along with UNC agreed in January of last year to join four other municipalities and three other major universities to ratify NCNGN. According to its website, NCNGN is a “regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation broadband networks in North Carolina.” It’s also comprised of Durham, Cary, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; Duke and Wake Forest round out the group.


Courtesy of Gizmodo

According to Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, the Triangle averages internet speeds between 10.9 and 14.6 megabits per second. The ultra-high-speed internet option of one-gigabit per second would be 70-100 times greater than those averages.

“If you think of how long it takes to download a movie or if you’re doing education content with the university and doing streaming, some of the things that you want to do with offsite stuff like Google Apps and Documents and Microsoft SkyDrive and download music and your save your music up in the cloud, if you have a one gig file and you’re up at a gig, it takes a second,” Hoit says.

Hoit says NCNGN sees ultra-high-speed internet changing the world of medicine.

“We’re hoping to see things like medical diagnostics live, hi-resolution video used for medical services or for other types of services that you can do diagnostics and use that high-speed stream,” Hoit says.

Another positive aspect of fiber-optic internet is downloading and uploading speeds are the same. With Google fiber or AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, you could receive or send files big and small in almost no time. For example, you could download a full-length, high-definition movie in about 30 seconds.

“The symmetric version is really important from our standpoint, because as you want to work with all these new services that people are doing and putting your music in the cloud; if somebody’s in a studio and creating music and then wants to put it up and to be served somewhere else, you need that upload speed just as much,” Hoit says.

Google offered its first fiber-optic internet service in Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It later expanded to Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas. In mid-February, the internet giant announced it was considering Triangle cities as places to expand the ultra-high-speed option.

Time Warner Cable said last year that it plans to extend the next level of service sometime in the near future.

Of course, the prices for these ultra-high speed options could be higher. Google fiber in Kansas City is selling its product at $70 per month for internet alone. It is, however, currently waiving its $300 construction fee to customers who sign up.

“Our expectation is to be priced similar to what you’re seeing in Kansas City and in Austin,” Hoit says. “The price depends on the costs and other things, but it should be very close to that same price.”

The next step for the municipalities and universities within NCNGN is to review the terms and agreements of the plan to continue the process.

Carrboro elected officials will likely vote in mid-May on the plan; Chapel Hill leaders have not decided on a date when they will vote on the plan. However, Hoit says the next step should be fairly seamless.

“It’s been a two, two-and-a-half year process of which the municipalities and the universities have been working together through this whole time,” Hoit says. “It will hopefully not come as a surprise. The municipal lawyers have all been involved, so there’s been a lot of collaboration that we’re hoping everything goes smoothly.”

Knife Wielder Committed To UNC Hospitals

Authorities say the man who was arrested for pulling a knife on a UNC student Sunday afternoon has been involuntarily committed to UNC hospitals.

According to the Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill resident and 31-year-old UNC graduate, Jesse Alan Kister was committed in UNC Department of Public Safety’s custody on Sunday. When he’s released, he will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Chapel Hill Police and DPS coordinated the search for Kister. CHPD found him in The Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin Street. He was taken to the Chapel Hill Police Station and quickly turned over to DPS since the crime took place on campus.

Kister was found in possession of four knives valued at $100, according to the incident report.

Alert Carolina issued an emergency warning shortly after 4:00 p.m., when the incident first took place. Buildings on campus were locked down—including Carmichael Arena, where the UNC women’s basketball team was playing its first-round NCAA tournament game.

Alert Carolina issued the all-clear at 5:18 p.m. Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries.

The DTH interviewed one of Kister’s former professors who said he only knew Kister in the classroom and didn’t know him on a personal level.

Kister received his bachelor’s degree in information science from UNC in 2005. He also earned a master’s in health care administration in 2008 and information science in 2011.

DTH Article

Cold Front To Bring Frozen Precipitation

National Weather Service Senior Forecaster Scott Sharp says once the cold front moves through the Triangle between 7:00 and 7:30 Monday morning, we should expect rain to switch to sleet at about midday.

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Sharp during the WCHL Monday Morning News.

***Listen to the Interview***

Killer in Eve Carson Case Seeks Parole Possibility

Laurence Lovette, one of two men who murdered UNC Student Body President Eve Carson back in 2008, is trying once again to get the possibility of parole attached to his life sentence.

But Orange & Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall, the prosecutor in Lovette’s murder trial, doesn’t think Lovette’s chances are very good.

“I have very high hopes that the appellate courts are going to find that Laurence Lovette’s re-sentencing was done properly, and that he will remain in prison for the rest of his life without possibility of parole,” says Woodall.

Lovette was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery and felony larceny for his role in Carson’s kidnapping and shooting death on March 5, 2008.

He and his convicted accomplice Demario Atwater are both serving life in prison without possibility of parole for crimes in connection with Carson’s death.

But Lovette’s lawyer is pushing for him to be re-sentenced, based on the fact that he was 17 at the time of Carson’s murder. As reported in the Daily Tar Heel on Wednesday, Lovette’s attorney Keat Wiles argued his client’s case in the NC Court of Appeals on Feb. 6.

Lovette’s defense is pointing to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that life in prison without possibility of parole for someone younger than 18 when the crime was committed is cruel and unusual punishment.

Wiles argued that Lovette was denied due process because he was unable to take advantage of new sentencing guidelines that were in the works while his trial was ongoing. He’s asking for the possibility of parole after 25 years.

But Lovette did get a re-sentencing hearing last year, and Superior Court Judge Allen Barbour handed down the same punishment.

“And so in our case, at the re-sentencing, Laurence Lovette received another sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and I certainly hope that the North Carolina Courts find that the new legislation is constitutional, and that that is the ultimate punishment he receives,” says Woodall.

Woodall says he’s sure that the judge’s decision in Lovette’s June 2013 re-sentencing hearing was in compliance with the language of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, as well as sentencing legislation regarding minors, passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2012 and signed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue.

“The Supreme Court decision was based on two separate cases involving younger defendants,” says Woodall. “The essence of the Supreme Court decision is that someone who was less than 18 years old at the time the crime was committed can’t automatically receive a life sentence upon conviction – that a judge or a court must have the option, and must consider mitigating circumstances.”

Now it’s up to the North Carolina Court of Appeals to decide whether the essence of the Supreme Court’s decision was understood correctly in Lovette’s case. Woodall guesses that decision could take several months.

Google Fiber Could Be Coming To Chapel Hill/Carrboro

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are on the list of 34 communities across the country that are being considered for Google Fiber, a broadband network of ultra high speed internet.

Regional cities that also made the list include Cary, Charlotte, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh.

“Folks like Google and others see us as an important place to invest in this kind of infrastructure. I am very excited to have that acknowledged,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

In 2009, towns interested in becoming Google Fiber communities submitted applications for the project. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said it speaks well for the area that Carrboro and Chapel Hill are being considered.

“We are already ahead of the game. I think a lot of that kind of forward thinking will pay off for us one day,” Lavelle said.

Kleinschmidt said the good news is that Google could chose to move forward with both Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“We are not in competition with Carrboro, Durham or Raleigh, or the other cities that are a part of this announcement,” he said. “My understanding is that we are all in this together as a Metro Region.”

Google Fiber, which is about 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, already has projects in Kansas CityAustin and Provo.

Google representatives will work with staff from Carrboro and Chapel Hill to map out a potential Google Fiber network and also assess what challenges might arise. According to Google’s blog, the plan is to provide updates by the end of the year naming the cities that will be getting Google Fiber.

Kleinschmidt said Chapel Hill has various initiatives underway which will make it an attractive candidate for the project. This includes a recently completed fiber optic project that installed about 30 miles of municipal fiber optic cable connecting 15 Town facilities.

“I believe we are the only municipality in North Carolina that actually owns fiber in the ground. It stretches just into Durham and all the way through Carrboro,” Kleinschmidt said.

That network of fiber optic cables in Carrboro, Lavelle said, creates a “backbone” for potential high-speed vendors.

“I would venture to say that we are more in partnership with Chapel Hill in the sense that we are almost seamless in efforts to provide broadband to our residents,” she said.

Lavelle added that this opportunity could also provide high speed broadband internet to residents who might not otherwise be able to afford the service.

Chapel Hill Police: Please Move Your Stranded Cars

CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Police are grateful that drivers did not flood the department with phone calls about minor fender benders during this week’s big storm.

Now, police have another request: Please move your abandoned cars.

Initially, as the snow began wreaking havoc on Chapel Hill-area roadways Wednesday, police asked the public to hold off on making calls about fender benders and other minor issues.

On Friday, Chapel Hill Police Lt. Josh Mecimore said it worked.

“We’ve not had a huge influx of calls,” Mecimore said. “We are currently starting to tow vehicles that were left. We’ve asked people to begin making arrangements to have those vehicles moved.”

Mecimore said that cars that were left behind in travel lanes are causing police some concern now.

“We’re going to start towing cars that are in the roadway, on primary roads” he said. “And then we’ll start working our way toward secondary roads. And hopefully, people will get the message that now that it’s starting to warm and that ice is starting to melt, that it’s time to come back and get your cars.”

He suggested that people check into bus services that can get them out to their stranded vehicles.

The issue, of course, is safety. Mecimore said that while most accidents after the snowfall were caused by patches of black ice, there was at least one where an abandoned car was involved.

“A vehicle that was left in a travel lane was hit by a moving vehicle,” he said.

Mecimore said that, prior to Friday’s towing initiative, about 10 cars were towed by Chapel Hill Police.

“Some of those were towed at the owner’s request,” said Mecimore. “They weren’t impounded by us. I think we impounded seven vehicles.”

Those were left in a travel lane, where they were either blocking emergency vehicles or snow plows. Mecimore said he is still waiting on figures regarding exactly how many roadway accidents occurred during the storm, and the snow-and-ice accumulation that it left behind.

For their part, police department employees, including Mecimore, were out there helping push cars up a treacherous hill on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on Wednesday.

“Eventually, we got all of those cars pushed out of the way,” he said. “ I think we ended up having to tow two of the ones from out there.”

Checking In With Your Community

Duke Energy Spokesperson Megan Musgrave

Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield

Orange County Public Affairs Director Carla Banks

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens

Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton

This Week In Orange County! (Weather Permitting.)

**UPDATE: The OWASA Board meeting scheduled for Thursday night (see below) has been cancelled. The Board will accept public comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at their meeting Thursday, February 27. (To read the plan, again, see below.)

ORANGE COUNTY – UNC will test its emergency sirens today, Tuesday, February 11, between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.

The test was originally set to take place in late January, but got postponed because of the snow that hit the area.

You’ll hear the sirens if you’re on campus, downtown, or near the Friday Center or Carolina North. The purpose is to test the Alert Carolina system; UNC will also send a text message to about 50,000 cell phones registered by students, faculty and staff.


Carrboro town manager David Andrews has named Carol Anderson Dorsey as the town’s new human resources director. Dorsey has spent the last five years as human resources director for the city of Oxford, NC; her prior jobs included serving as director of human resources for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.

A total of 85 candidates applied for the position, representing 16 different states.


The Orange Community Players will open their 2014 season in February with “Steel Magnolias,” the acclaimed story of six very different Southern women whose tight friendship carries them through joys and tragedies.

“Steel Magnolias” runs from February 13-16 at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. You can purchase tickets at the Senior Center, or online at


The OWASA Board is inviting you to come ask questions and comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at a meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA Building on Jones Ferry Road.

You can also send your comments and questions via email or by letter or fax. Send an e-mail to; send a letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510; or send a fax to 919-968-4464.

Click here to read the draft strategic plan.


Chapel Hill town government is moving out of Town Hall! (Part of it, at least.)

Renovations are about to begin at Town Hall, to repair the damage from last year’s flood and make some other layout changes to improve customer service. In the meantime, the mayor’s office has moved to the Chapel Hill Public Library, along with the office of the town manager and seven other Town staffers.

Everyone will move back into Town Hall when the renovations are finished. Town Council chambers are expected to reopen in September; other building areas will be addressed in phases after that.

Other town officials who are temporarily moving to the library: mayoral aide Mark McCurry, Assistant to the Town Manager Jason Damweber, Policy and Strategic Initiatives director Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Sustainability Officer John Richardson, Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett, Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator Rae Buckley, and Administrative Assistant Peggy Paumer.


This weekend, the campus organization VDAY Carolina is staging a bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to benefit the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Shows run from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16 at Hanes Auditorium, with two shows each on Friday and Saturday–one in English and one in Spanish.

You can buy tickets at Union Box Office, over the phone or online. For ticket information, visit


Thursday, February 13, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center will host the world premiere of “Ice Music,” a multimedia creation by the artist Brooks de Wetter-Smith. “Ice Music” examines the beauty and the importance of ice in our world, featuring de Wetter-Smith’s videography and photography, a new musical composition by Lowell Liebermann, and dance choreographed by Carey McKinley.

“Ice Music” will premiere at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Center as part of UNC’s Process Series. On Friday the 14th, there will be a workshop presentation and discussion at 4:00 p.m., also in the Mandela Auditorium.

For more information, click here.


You’re invited to a public information meeting on Thursday, February 13, to discuss Orange County’s “Agricultural Support Enterprises” program.

The program is designed to help farmers generate additional income by expanding the types of activities they may pursue on their farms. It’s been in development since 2001; Orange County is currently considering amending the Unified Development Ordinance to adopt it.

The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Food Lab of the Environmental and Agricultural Center, located at 306 Revere Road in Hillsborough.


Protect your cats and dogs by coming to a Microchip Clinic on Thursday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Services Department on Eubanks Road.

Microchips will cost $25 per pet, which includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database. The Department will also offer one-year rabies vaccinations as well, for $10 per pet.

For more information, visit

Another Dose Of Winter Weather Aiming For Triangle

RALEIGH – Another winter storm is heading for the Triangle, but its severity is still unknown.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Barrett Smith about when the winter weather will start and how long it will last.

***Listen to the Interview***

A hazardous weather outlook is in place for the area through mid-week. Click here for more details.

Trash Terminators 2.0 Take Carrboro to Composting School

CARRBORO- Once again, a group of Chapel Hill middle schoolers looks like a sure bet to bring home the gold in a national science challenge. No matter that, we’re all winners, thanks to the work they do.

“We’re the Trash Terminators 2.0,” Rohan Deshpande announced to aldermen and spectators at Carrboro Town Hall. ”We’re working towards the Lexus Eco Challenge.”

Rohan, a student at Phillips Middle School, is the mainstay member of Trash Terminators, a group of science-minded Chapel Hill kids with a mission to protect the planet from greenhouse gas and methane emissions.

Last year, Rohan and two other students won first place in Siemens’ national “We Can Change the World” challenge. This past Tuesday night, Rohan told Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen how they did it.

“We diverted 25 percent of our trash from going to a landfill,” he reported.

This year’s team of Rohan, Vincent Chen, Elizabeth Farmer, Quentin Sieredzki and Graeme Zimmermann is keeping it going. They’ve entered into the Lexus Eco Challenge, where they’ve made it to the national section. The money they won from that so far has gone back into green initiatives at their school.

The challenge gives teams the opportunity to win up to $30,000 in grants and scholarships for the best ideas about protecting the environment.

During this school year, the Terminators have been addressing a situation created by the closing of the Orange County Landfill last summer.

“This means that trash is being transported to a location that is more than a hundred miles away,” Rohan observed. “This is also adding costs, and creates more pollution.”

The Terminators used a carbon footprint calculator to determine that for every ton of trash the city ships to the new landfill, 57 pounds of carbon dioxide will be emitted, and $55 of taxpayer money will be spent.

The kids also figured out that 55 percent of Phillips’ cafeteria trash is compostable waste. So they started a composting program at the school.

Terminator Quentin told aldermen how they did it.

“We set up composting bins in our school cafeteria,” he said, “in which students and staff dump all their compostable food items, which include food waste, food trays and napkins.”

Brooks Contractor in Goldston collects the compost twice a week. Liquid waste has been diverted from the trash, and recycling efforts have been ramped up.

“Our goal is to send only pure trash to the landfill, which will reduce carbon emission and cost,” said Quentin.

The students managed to reduce trash pickups as well, which saved Phillips School money.

Terminator Vincent Chen said it’s been a schoolwide effort, with students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents involved.

“In the lunchroom, we had parents, students and volunteers to help students with composting during lunch.”

There was a charitable component as well.

“We also started a ‘giving table’ where we keep all the uneaten and unopened food,” said Vincent.

The food is distributed to families on meal plans, and it’s available to students and staff as well.

“We diverted more than 80 percent of the trash going to a landfill by recycling and composting,” said Vincent. “We will divert 20,500 pounds of trash over 180 state days of school at Phillips.”

The plan saves about $550 in gas by reducing shipping. And it will prevent about 574 pounds of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. The kids figure that if all area middle schools adopted this initiative, there would be 41 tons less of trash in landfills over the next school year.

The Terminators spread the word with public information tables, a Time Warner infomercial, and social media outreach.

And they conducted a survey that showed how most citizens would like to see municipal composting.

Alderman Sammy Slade, like all his colleagues, was impressed.

“I would like to partner with y’all to find out how we could do this in Carrboro,” he said. “Because you have so much knowledge.”

Slade recommended that the kids approach the school board about using some of the savings on even more green initiatives.

Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell suggested that the kids look to the State Department of Environmental Resources Division of Solid Waste for a grant.

“Now more than ever, not only municipally, but in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, but in the county, we need this,” she said, “because of the landfill.”

Alderman Damon Seils had the last word, by stating what must have been on everyone’s mind.

“I was just going to make the observation that Chapel Hill and Carrboro just got schooled by the Trash Terminators,” said Seils.